Monday, July 07, 2008

Balloon Travel is Risky

Not hot air balloons. Party balloons.

Two stories today about people travelling by party balloon. One had a nice ending, the other not so much.

First up, Kent Couch from Bend, Oregon rode a green lawn chair supported by a rainbow array of more than 150 helium-filled party balloons all the way to McCall, Idaho, about 230 miles east, travelling at about 20 mph.

To control his ascent, he shot at the balloons with a pellet gun and dumped 45 gallons of cherry Kool-Aid he carried as ballast.

It was his third flight. In 2006, he had to parachute out after popping too many balloons. And last year he flew 193 miles to the sagebrush of northeastern Oregon, short of his goal.

Said his wife, Susan: "He's crazy. It's never been a dull moment since I married him."

Then, on the not so funny side, in an effort to raise funds for a local charity organization, Father Adelir de Carli from Brazil planned to stay for more than 19 hours up in the air using a thousand party balloons, taking a GPS with him to communicate his position in case of emergency.

He took off last April, and his last known communication was the following:

I need to contact someone who can teach me how to operate this GPS, so I can give the latitude and longitude coordinates, which is the only way that people on the ground can know where I am.

Over the weekend he was found dead in the middle of the Atlantic.

I am going to stick with other kinds of alternate fuels for now, or I will at least learn the GPS machine before I take off via air balloon.

More about these stories here and here.


Barbara(aka Layla) said...

Wow, that second one is sad and that first one should pay was not meant to fly with balloons!

Sue said...

I remember when Father Carli began his flight, and hadn't heard that his body was found. Which is why I will not be doing that.

VoxMoose said...

The guy who started this trend was Larry Walters back in 1982 using 45 Helium-filled weather balloons, a patio chair, and a pellet gun. He got up to 16k feet! The Mythbusters were able to reproduce a reduced scale version of the experiment (under much safer conditions).